When it rains, it pours.
If you haven’t been following Volkswagen’s massive diesel scandal, here’s a quick refresher: In September, the Environmental Protection Agency accused the automaker of using cheat software to help a number of its TDI “Clean Diesel” models pass emissions tests. Volkswagen not only confirmed this, but admitted 11 million 2009-15 cars equipped with its four-cylinder 2.0 liter TDI were affected worldwide, including over 482,000 cars in America. While Volkswagen is now at the center of the biggest automotive scandal of the century, it has pulled its 2.0 TDIs off the market, assured the German government that a fix will be announced to consumers within a few months, and said in no uncertain terms that no other Volkswagens are affected by the cheat software.
But that may not be entirely true.
On Monday, the EPA published a report finding that models equipped with Volkswagen’s 3.0 liter TDI V6 also come with the cheat software. This revelation lumps in cars like the 2014-15 Volkswagen Tuareg and Porsche Cayenne, as well as the 2016 Audi A6 and A7 Quattros, A8, A8L, and Q5 SUV. Instead of admitting guilt like before, however, Volkswagen immediately shot back, claiming that it “wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner. Volkswagen will cooperate fully with the EPA clarify this matter in its entirety.”
But in the days since, the company has taken that statement down from its media site, issued a voluntary “stop-sale” order for the affected V6 TDI models, and finally admitted that “around 800,000 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group could be affected” from this latest batch of irregularities.
And just to prove that bad news comes in threes, the company has just issued a recall for a further 91,000 2015-16 gasoline-powered models in the U.S. for a defective camshaft.
So in a shocking twist of events, Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche are no longer selling any diesel models. In a statement, company CEO Matthias Müller declared that behind the scenes, “We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth. That is the basis for the fundamental realignment that Volkswagen needs.”
And while Audi was affected in the first wave of allegations, this latest revelation drags Volkswagen’s premium brand further into the fray, taking Porsche along with it. The sports car maker is pleading innocence, however, and reiterating that its stop-sale order on the Cayenne Diesel is strictly voluntary.
“Porsche Cars North America, Inc. today decided, in view of the unexpected U.S. EPA notice received yesterday, to voluntarily discontinue sales of model year 2014 through 2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel vehicles until further notice,” the company said in a press release. “We are working intensively to resolve this matter as soon as possible. Customers may continue to operate their vehicles normally.”
For years, Volkswagen was run under the iron fist of group CEO Ferdinand Piëch. As Bob Lutz argues in Road and Track, Piëch’s culture of fear and top-down management style are likely what sowed the seeds of “Dieselgate,” and his ouster in April is most likely the cause of the company’s fractured state today. In light of a bad situation, it was almost noble for Volkswagen to admit and accept responsibility during the scandal’s first wave. But to begin pulling back and covering up now would only make a bad situation worse. In order to start moving forward, Volkswagen needs to open its doors and live under a microscope for a while. If it doesn’t, then it could be putting its whole future in jeopardy.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS